None of this will stop them from climbing up on any convenient coffin and screaming at the rest of us.
According to law enforcement, Alexis used a shotgun in his rampage. This didn’t compute in some newsrooms. CNN referred to the weapon as an “AR-15 shotgun.” Maybe the new protocol should be that any gun used in commission of a crime automatically gets an “AR-15” prefix.
Other common panaceas would have had no effect, either. Alexis bought his shotgun from a duly licensed dealer, not at a gun show. He passed a federal background check with no problem. He didn’t have a high-capacity magazine. He reportedly got the handgun or handguns he may also have used in the attack after shooting a security officer.
So the Navy Yard rampage demonstrates the essential sterility of the gun control debate, and all the ill-informed nattering that the likes of Piers Morgan can muster won’t change that fact. It is true that James Holmes and Adam Lanza used AR-15s. But Seung-Hui Cho and Jared Loughner used 9-mm semi-automatic pistols. And Aaron Alexis used a shotgun.
The common theme is that they were all deeply disturbed young men whose acts of murder had a sickening aspect of utter senselessness. The Daily News got it backwards. Its headline about the Navy Yard should have read, “Different gun, same slay.”
Maybe, just maybe, this time we can have a real debate about mental illness. To this point, we’ve had a simplistically instrumental focus. It’s like seeing a mad man wearing a tinfoil hat to protect himself from radio waves and thinking, “That’s a shame, if only we could ban tinfoil.”
When Aaron Alexis called the Rhode Island police a month ago to tell them that enemies were harassing him with a microwave machine, it was clear that he was suffering paranoid delusions and needed help. But the authorities let him go his merry way, evidently to sink deeper into the madness he mistook for reality.
If we had the same callous disregard masquerading as compassionate nonjudgmentalism for people suffering from Alzheimer’s, they would be sleeping in our streets, eating from our trash cans and rotting in our jails. It needs to be easier to compel treatment for the mentally ill. That may or may not reduce random shootings, but it would reduce the total amount of suffering from an illness that wellness-obsessed America is happy to ignore.
There will be another Aaron Alexis. If we can’t predict what gun he’ll use, we already know his mental state.
True enough. But I can’t honestly say I trust the government to get “compel(ling) treatment for the mentally ill” right any more than I do on most any other topic you could name. In the end, it all comes down to the same thing: the inevitable failure of starry-eyed Utopian-liberal-fascist juveniles to remove the imperfections in this world and make it conform to their ideological wishes. No matter how much authority over us they claim, no matter how personal the political becomes at their behest, reality just goes right on thwarting them again and again. And that drives them even more nuts than they already were.